Guided by Voices are a truly influential band in the indie music sphere. Their 20+ year run provided the sonic groundwork for the lo-fi, DIY aesthetic so prevalent in today’s indie music scene. So it comes as no surprise that so many artists would be willing to provide covers from all eras of Guided by Voices work for the tribute album, Sing For Your Meat. Ranging from veterans such as The Flaming Lips, Thurston Moore (of Sonic Youth fame), and Lou Barlow, to artists more recently making names for themselves like La Sera and Blitzen Trapper, the bands on this 23-track tribute pay loving homage to a band without whom they might not exist.
Things kick off with a slightly sped up, straight forward rock cover of “Scalding Creek” by Kelly Deal and Buffalo Killers. The vocals keep the simple two part harmony. When they take a break, the lead guitar comes wailing through for a simple, yet effective solo, until the song pulls back on the reigns a little and comes to an abrupt halt. Things keep moving along quite swiftly, since, keeping true to the spirit of Guided by Voices, most songs clock in around two minutes or so, and indie star power like Thurston Moore and Lou Barlow is nicely mixed in with lesser known artists like Western Civ.
By and large, the covers stay fairly true to the Guided by Voices format, with short run times, crunchy guitars, and just enough rough edges to be endearing. However, at around five minutes, The Flaming Lips kick off a section where the artists decide to explore a little. They provide a dreamy, meandering take on the track “Smothered in Hugs” that truly brings out the emotion in the lyrics by using plenty of reverb and processing to compliment Wayne Coyne’s tender crooning. This is immediately followed by La Sera’s equally dreamy take on “Watch Me Jumpstart.” Filled with the sounds of organs and lovely harmonies, the track truly sweeps you away into another reality. I Was Destroying It’s cover of “I Am Produced” and David Kilgour’s take on “How Loft Am I” provide a synth-filled end to this more experimental middle act. I Was Destroying It give their track a creepy, futuristic vibe with heavy synths and choppy, mechanical vocals. David Kilgour follows it up with a bubbly take on his cover, using whimsical sounding synthesizers to complement the reverb-soaked vocals.
Cymbals Eat Guitars bring things back around to the more straightforward covers with their fitting cover of “Gleemer”. While it may not be the most exciting or interesting track on the album, its slow build and simple harmonies offer a much-needed respite. Blitzen Trapper close out the album with a take on “Hot Freaks” that fits their alt-folk sound well. The harmonica’s wailing and the driving piano line bubbling underneath transport the song to the southwest perfectly. It sounds as though the song was always intended to be done that way.
While it’s tough to match the magic of Guided by Voices, several artists manage, and others even surpass the originals with their own takes on the songs. Sing For Your Meat is one of the most entertaining and enjoyable tribute albums we’ve seen in a while.
Sing For Your Meat Tracklist:
01. Kelley Deal and Buffalo Killers – Scalding Creek
02. Thurston Moore – Stabbing a Star
03. Elf Power – Man Called Aerodynamics
04. Superdrag – A Salty Salute
05. Western Civ – My Valuable Hunting Knife
06. Crooked Fingers – Tractor Rape Chain
07. Lou Barlow – Game of Pricks
08. Sorry About Dresden – Echos Myron
09. James Husband- Buzzards and Dreadful Crows
10. Flaming Lips – Smothered in Hugs
11. La Sera – Watch Me Jumpstart
12. I Was Totally Destroying It – I Am Produced
13. David Kilgour – How Loft Am I
14. Cymbals Eat Guitars – Gleemer
15. Jason Isbell and the 400 unit – Everywhere with Helicopter
16. The Pneurotics – I Am a Tree
17. Blitzen Trapper – Hot Freaks
Free Digital Companion
01. Mass Solo Revolt – Gold Star for Robot Boy
02. Gregg Yeti – Quality Of Armor
03. Western Civ – Goldheart Mountain Top Queen Directory
04. North Elementary – They’re Not Witches/Ex Supermodel
05. Marie Stella – Little Lines
06. Free Electric State – Weedking